Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Game: Star Wars The Force Unleashed

System: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii

Released: September 2008

This is just a friendly reminder that all of my reviews have some sort of spoilers. SO BE WARNED!!!

Star Wars games have definitely had their share of hits and misses. Fortunately the hits have lately been pretty frequent. The last generation of consoles saw great games like Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Outcast. The current generation of consoles continues this trend with The Force Unleashed. The developers at Lucas Arts have created a brilliant game with solid gameplay, fantastic visuals, and an excellent story. The latest Star Wars game takes place during that lovely era of Empirical domination. The Rebel Alliance has yet to be made, and the Emperor is simply wrapping up the loose ends from the Clone Wars. The game begins with players taking the role of the powerful Darth Vadar as he quells the latest Wookie uprising. During this prologue players can unleash the full power of the dark side. With the push of a button a Wookie is choked. Push another button, and the Wookie is thrown into the distance where they smash against a tree. That tree is then splintered and smashed. Right away the game shows off its bloody brilliant gameplay and wonderfully interactive environment. At the end of the level Vadar finds the main character, and another great Star Wars adventure begins.

So who is this nifty new character that is worthy of a video game? Well his Sith name is Starkiller, and apparently he is Darth Vadar's secret apprentice. At the end of his battle on Kashyyk, Darth Vadar discovers the son of a Jedi who--of course--is strong in the force. Sensing a great destiny within the child he takes him on as his secret apprentice. Now here is where I go geek, and why this games story is fantastic.

At first Vadar seems to want to use Starkiller to take down the Emperor, and continue the cycle of betrayal associated with the Sith ways. Vadar convinces Starkiller that they will both kill the Emperor, and then betrays Starkiller before they strike. This obviously pisses off Starkiller, but Vadar convinces him that his betrayal was only an elaborate ruse. With the Emperor believing that he is dead Starkiller is now free to do some real damage. Vadar tells Starkiller to raise an army. With the Emperor distracted by rebels he will be weak and vulnerable. So, like the patsy he is, Starkiller helps create a rebel army by contacting powerful Senators like Bail Organa. During the first genuine meeting of this newly formed Rebel Alliance Vadar strikes. Starkiller is once again betrayed by Vadar. He discovers that he was simply a tool of the Empire all along. Broken and beaten Vadar throws Starkiller off a cliff and escorts the rebellious prisoners to the newly created Death Star for execution. Luckily along the way Starkiller had discovered the ultimate motivator--a woman. She convinces him that it's not too late. Desperate they go to the Death Star where Starkiller can face his enemies, free the prisoners, and complete his destiny.

This awesome story has two fantastic endings, and the solid gameplay makes this ride worth the price of admission. Starkiller wields a single lightsaber and is a master of the dark side. Throughout his adventure his powers will continue to grow. He can slice up a storm trooper with grace and finesse. Lightening will shoot from his finger tips. Force grab can pick up and throw just about anything--including a Star Destroyer! There are also two types of Force Push. One is a 360 push, and the other is more direct. None of the force powers or abilities are original, but the scope and intensity of each ability is refreshingly fantastic.

The solid gameplay and excellent story is further enhanced by the engaging art and music. Players will travel through the junk yards of Raxus Prime and see old Trade Federation ships from the Clone Wars. Felucia is a lush world full of exotic flora and fauna. Even the traditional Death Star is illustrated from a fairly unique angle. The artistic detail of this game continues to add depth to an already vivid Star Wars universe, and is rightfully accompanied by John Williams original score.

Hmmmm. So much praise. Can this be the perfect Star Wars game? Oh heeeeelllll nnnnnoooooo! As fun as this game is, the plethora of bugs and a lack of multiplayer is a real drag. The bugs range from small art issues to progression stoppers. No multiplayer is also a real disappointment after the success of Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. These critiques, however, should not prevent any Star Wars fan from enjoying The Force Unleashed. This is a fun game that scores a respectable 4.7 out of 5.

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